Given that the Ford Puma of the late 1990s arrived with the bold tagline ‘A driver’s dream’, Ford's decision to reprise the name of its pint-size coupé on the tailgate of a crossover seems perplexing.
With a larger frontal area, a higher centre of gravity and more weight, this new Puma clearly distances itself from traditional ‘driver’s dream’ territory where the 1034kg original did everything budgets would allow to get closer.
But times have changed. Today, the compact crossover class is bursting at the seams with members as manufacturers cash in on demand and the mass-market space for more unusual, enthusiast-minded projects has rapidly shrunk.
However, what this segment has long been devoid of is something genuinely good to drive, which is where – Ford says – this new Puma will justify its name. The car will slot into the range between the dreary Ford EcoSport and the Ford Kuga and it shares a platform with Ford Fiesta, which, as you may have heard, is easily the dynamic benchmark in the supermini class.
The Puma is the first small Ford to use hybrid power, in the form of a 48V system bolstering a three-cylinder petrol turbo engine. The car’s striking design, which has been described as ‘anti-wedge’ by one Ford designer, is intended to steal sales from more premium brands, notably Mini. Strong ergonomics are also promised, with the Puma possessing one of the largest boot capacities in the class, more passenger space than the Fiesta and what Ford calls the Megabox, more on which in a moment. Fully digital instrument dials and level two ‘autonomous’ driver aids should add to its appeal.